A gridiron is a grid made of metal. Throw it over a fire and you have a grill. Attach it to a ceiling and you can hang things from it like theaters do for the lights and sets used on a stage. It’s also a football term. In this case, I don’t know what it refers to since I’m not a fan. And yet, it was while listening to sports radio (for Toronto Blue Jays news, of course) that I heard the word.

“Blah…blah…blah…blah…gridiron,” the radio host said.

In my brain, the word appeared: gridiron.

“G-r-i-d-i-r-o-n,” I spelled it out in silently.

A childhood memory of an educational tv show activated a scene in my mind where the profile of a face appeared at the left, spoke the word “grid” and it manifested itself in my mind. From the right, another profile appeared, spoke the word “iron” and it manifested itself too. Grid. Iron. The two words met in the middle to form gridiron.

I had read the word gridiron time and time again. I knew what it meant, but I don’t think that I had ever heard the word spoken out loud before. In my head, I always pronounced it as grid-ee-ron. I don’t know why since it doesn’t make any sense. I laughed at myself. Duh, so simple!

This got me thinking about another mispronounced word. Southern. I had spoken the word many times, probably heard it multiple times, but had never noticed that I pronounced it in my own peculiar way, something like south-ern, until, while in conversation, someone said “Pardon me?” And I said, “You know…south.” “Oh, you mean sou-thern.” “Yeah, sou-thern.” How many other words have I read, know the meaning of and never heard? Or how many words do I pronounce wrong and no one bothers to correct me?

How about you? Have you mangled the pronunciation of any words? Or have you used any words you thought you knew the definition of but discovered that you didn’t?


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  1. #1 by patriciasands on September 23, 2012 - 1:44 PM

    Why is that so many Americans (including Presidents e.g. G.W. Bush) mispronounce nuclear by saying new – cue – ler ? Fascinating!

    • #2 by Patricia Caviglia on September 23, 2012 - 2:31 PM

      I’ve done it too!
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  2. #3 by Catherine Johnson on September 22, 2012 - 7:14 AM

    Hearing aluminum for the first time was really funny. Different spelling and pronunciation from alluminium.

  3. #5 by Joan Leacott on September 21, 2012 - 10:02 AM

    Sangwich, for sandwich, is my friend’s favourite mispronunciation. Aluminum is another common twister. Then there’s enervated which means lazy-making; the opposite of what most people guess. Words are so much fun. I’m not sure if I’m being wry about that. 😉

    • #6 by Patricia Caviglia on September 22, 2012 - 8:52 AM

      Words are fun and some a little challenging, but we’re here to learn so let’s do it.

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